BAYFOOD COOKS: Biryani is magical. It can just be eaten on its own as a meal - that’s how delicious it is. I like to eat mine with Raita since it helps temper the spice a little bit and it’s just a good sauce. When I was younger my mom would make it with meat but then we (my sister and I) would just end up eating the rice around it lol. Which is actually pretty strange since most people LOVE the piece of meat (Boti) that’s in the rice.
Anyway, I wasn’t originally planning to post this since my mom had just made it one day when some of my friends were coming over to visit me while I was in my initial recovery stage. I posted it on Instagram awhile back and people seemed to like it so I thought I’d get the recipe from her and post it. She wrote down everything for me even though it took her awhile to explain it since she pretty much does it from memory lol. This is a vegetarian version of Biryani since it usually contains meat, so that’s a plus for all the herbivores out there!
*Note: One note that I would like to make is in regards to Shan Masala (a pre-made mixture of spices, which are available in Indian stores and halal markets): This recipe calls for the full packet to be used, and if you did that, the end result would be far too spicy. If you would like your biryani to be spicier, you may add more masala. Be sure to taste it before adding more masala.
- 6 ounces/half packet frozen mixed vegetables (usually corn, beans, etc.)
- 2 large onions, finely sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 Serrano chiles, sliced in long strips (for milder taste, remove seeds)
- ⅓ cup oil
- 1 teaspoon salt (you can use less since masala has salt in it as well for lower sodium)
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- ½ tablespoon garlic paste
- ½ tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 ½ tablespoon Shan Biryani Masala (more or less to taste)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- Slices of lime, for garnish
- Yellow food coloring (optional)**
- Before beginning to cook the rice, wash and soak the basmati rice 20 minutes before boiling. It’s really important to use basmati rice because other types of rice will affect the taste and texture which will change the dish. At this time, also preheat the oven to 250 F.
- In a large, flat bottom pan or large wok, heat oil on medium heat. Add onions and fry until golden brown, then turn off the heat. Remove ½ of the onions from oil and put it on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Set aside.
- Add the garlic and ginger pastes and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, Shan masala and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes until tomatoes soften. *Note: if you cannot find ready-made garlic and ginger pastes in stores, you can always create your own.
- Add frozen vegetables and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 ½ cup of water. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let it cook until vegetables are soft and there’s a sort of thick gravy. If the water dries, add more water to make gravy. At this time, check the salt and masala and adjust more or less according to your taste.
- In a separate pot, boil 6 cups of water. Add rice and 1 tsp salt. Cook until rice is ¾ cooked so it’s not fully soft. Drain rice in a colander. *Note: Rice is not fully cooked because it will finish cooking in the very final step.
- In the large pot, keep half of the vegetable mixture in the bottom, layer half rice, and then half of the fried onions mixture and repeat. Spread green chiles, cilantro, lime slices, and rest of the fried onions.
- Cover tightly with foil. Place in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. During this time, the rice will finish cooking. In Urdu, this is called “dham,” which basically means to steam.
- Before serving, gently fluff the rice with a fork and transfer it to a platter or large dish, making sure you can see the vegetables spread out.
**If you are going to use food coloring (which is meant to give the biryani a more traditional look, as if it has saffron in it), drop 2 or 3 droplets in a spot, then move on to another spot. Do this in about 7 or 8 places. If using powder coloring, just sprinkle in 7 or 8 places. Complete this step before putting the rice into the oven.
You get really delicious, fluffy rice as a result! Because the rice takes time to steam in the oven, all of the flavors really come out and get mixed well into the rice and vegetables. The slices of lime are put in before since the steam also releases the flavor of the lime and combines with the rest of the dish. We usually put less salt than usually directed to decrease the sodium content and because the masala usually has a lot of sodium already. You can have this is as the main dish of your meal with raita or chutney, or it can be accompanied by chicken, kebabs, or even daal (lentils). It’s really up to you what you want to eat with it! I prefer it solo with yogurt. :)
My friends enjoyed it so much, we sent them home with it along with some butter chicken. They took it to work the next day!
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